Implementing reforms - top priority in 2018 – 2020 Economic Reform Program

Skopje, 9th June 2017 (MIA) - 2018 – 2020 Economic Reform Program, which the Republic of Macedonia is to implement as a candidate country for EU membership, should include reforms to move the country forward. Macedonia is the first country in the region to commence this fourth cycle of reforms.

This was pointed out at today's initial meeting on the Economic Reform Program in Skopje.

- The first week of changes has already covered an event by which we commence a process of planning the reforms for the period 2018 - 2020. EC is sending positive signals for support. It is very important that we are supported by a strategic partner such as the EU, since the new reform-oriented Government is facing a huge challenge of implementing reforms, Minister of Finance, Dragan Tevdovski, said.

He also added that it would be basis for the key reform processes of the Government, which are to additionally intensify our dialogue with the EU.

- Within this process, the European Commission provides the right guidance for the reforms and encourages the Western Balkan countries to intensively work on both the economic growth and the competitiveness. Therefore, I would like to thank them, since if no guidance about the reforms from the EU exists, Western Balkan governments quite often undertake activities that are not in the interest of the majority of the citizens, but rather of the small elites. I would hence recommend a grater focus on the social cohesion within the reform process, Tevdovski pointed out.

According to him, taking into account that this is the fourth time for Macedonia to undergo this process, it is necessary to implement the lessons learnt in the past years, to improve the weaknesses and to enhance the strengths even more. - Macedonia is facing a wave of changes today and reforms are needed for the country to move forward, Tevdovski said.

Willem Noe from the Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations urged for the new program to focus on regulatory reform and market functioning, while less attention should be paid on public infrastructure investments which covered a significant part of last-year’s program.

According to him, changing the government does not imply that something needs to be changed, but rather main obstacles and limitations need to be detected and the main problems to be prioritized and resolved. He underlined that the focus in the fourth cycle should shift from monitoring and observing to the level of fulfilling the measures.

- What is the most important is to implement the reforms and the key factor to focus on this year is their implementation, Marzena Kisielewska, Head of South East Europe Division within OECD, said.  According to her, the success of the economic program is not measured by the quantity of perfect documents provided, but rather by how such program is being implemented.

The idea, as she underlined, is for the reforms to make the country more competitive not only theoretically, as well as to set the criteria to attract investments which bring changes and value added.

As she recommended, what is important in the process of attracting investments is the policy consistency and the overall approach of the Government and the mediation.